When Apple held its big event back in March, pivoting to services and announcing several new products in this realm, Apple News+ was the only one that actually launched.
Leaving aside for a moment the potential danger the service poses to the already struggling publishing industry, the criticism of the design and usability of the app itself has been growing ever since it became available – raising the question of whether it, too, should have been postponed until designed more thoughtfully.
Formatting, readability, curation – all these have been cited as problematic areas by those using the service – but that’s not all.
For $120 a year Apple News+ subscribers gain access to more magazines and newspapers than they are likely to be able to read – and also, about the same quantity of notifications from the app, populating the screens of their devices, and taking its toll on their attention, iOS expert Matthew Cassinelli writes on his blog.
After using Apple News+ on his iPad, and then returning to the device several weeks later, Cassinelli found it visually clogged up with notifications – effectively, with spam.
Not for the minimalist, then. And not for anyone hoping to be spending less time and attention spread ever more thinly online and/or using their devices. The focus and order Apple’s new service was supposed to offer its subscribers winds up creating more chaos, this user has been discovering.
Cassinelli also found the notifications not only invasive with their frequency – spawned each 15 to 30 minutes – and number, but also, just like spam tends to be, fairly irrelevant to him and his interests. Furthermore, items marked as “breaking” stories weren’t that at all, he realized. Then there’s the case of one “lifestyle story recommendation” that turned out to be “about a porn website.”
And while the arrangement may work for Apple and the publishers who are using the app to try and reach readers in this highly undesirable way, Cassinelli is pleading for the tech giant to think of its users, too.
Meanwhile, one way to deal with the notification deluge is to opt-out and turn them off per channel.